Retail self-service technologies are used everyday by a broad cross section of the U.S. population since their first installation a decade ago but they still have not reached the universal level of consumer adoption of the ATM, according to a survey from Forrester Research.
However, most of the consumers who have adopted the technologies find them very useful, according to Forrester's North American Technographics Retail Online Survey conducted last year.
Sucharita Malpuru, Forrester vice president, recommends in an analysis of the survey that retailers can better integrate their in-store and online shopping experiences by using kiosks as information devices and coupon-dispensing tools.
"In-store kiosks and self-service technologies are becoming more present in consumers' everyday lives via ATMs and airport check-in and can provide opportunities for cross-channel growth," writes Malpuru in her analysis, "Consumer Usage of Kiosks and Self-Service Checkout Tools."
"They're gaining traction in retail, as well. This is particularly true in the grocery sector, where self-checkout technologies have been implemented since 1998," writes Malpuru.
According to the survey, 68 percent of US online adults in 2009 reported they had used self-checkout at a retail store, compared with 17 percent in 2006.
The use of in-store information kiosks has seen growth as well, but not nearly to the same degree. In 2009, 21 percent of online US consumers said they had used a store information kiosk to find or learn about a product, up from 3 percent in 2006.
Younger people, women and more affluent online buyers are the consumers most likely to adopt retail self-service technologies, the survey found.
Of self-checkout users, 33 percent are Gen Xers while 22 percent are Gen Yers, making most users age 43 and under. The average age of this user was 42. More self-checkout users are women, 54 percent, and these users have an average annual household income of $82,000.
Of kiosk information seekers, 57 percent are 18 to 43 years old, 53 percent are women, and the group reports an average annual household income of $88,000. The average age of this user was 41.
The survey then asked the adopters why they found the kiosks beneficial. It found that 78 percent of self-service checkout users thought the technology was very or extremely useful as they make purchases. And 74 percent of information seekers found the kiosk very or extremely useful as an information device.
Of all online US adults, most would like to see more applications provided through the kiosks to better their shopping experience. Nearly two-thirds would like a scanner device attached to their shopping cart that could scan purchases, give discounts and coupons and allow the consumer to check out automatically without standing in line.
Malpuru's analysis points to several successful integrations of the kiosk and online experience that other retailers might consider incorporating for their shoppers.
Installing a kiosk with direct access to the retailer's website allows consumers to research products without interacting with sales staff. IBM's wireless touch screen Shopping Buddy never took off, but it allowed the consumer from his shopping cart to scan and purchase items, order deli items and search a store map.
The outdoors store REI uses in-store kiosks to display its inventor of large items like canoes, and offers a free ship-to-store policy. And the drugstore chain CVS has put interactive coupon kiosks in some stores where its rewards cardholders can obtain discount deals. This application also allows CVS to track the shopping behavior of its regular customers.
Forrester conducted an online survey of 4,687 randomly chosen US consumers ages 18 to 88 for the Technographics Retail Online Survey.